Last week I shared the Bavarian half of my amazing road-trip, so this week it is time to delve into our adventure around the beautiful Austria. Home to Mozart and the film Sound of Music (FYI literally anyone over the age of forty will mention this if they find out you’re visiting Austria!), this part of the world is so picture perfect you’ll feel like you’ve walked straight into a postcard.
While a lot more expensive than Bavaria, it is worth the detour for the beautiful towns of Hallstatt and St Wolfgang. Salzburg is also beautiful in its own right (although extremely pricey!), and this part of Austria is rich in history if that’s your kind of thing. Munich to Salzburg is only two hours, so can easily be factored in if visiting Bavaria. As a reminder, here is the itinerary of our Bavarian/Austrian escape.
Day 1: Arrive in Munich
Day 2: Lake Walchensee, Ettal Abbey, Obermmagu, and Linderhof Palace
Day 3: Neuschwanstein Castle and Memmingen
Day 4: Munich
Day 5: Woflgangsee area, Austria
Day 6: Hallstatt and Gosausee, Austria
Day 7: Salzburg, Austria
Day 8: Drive back to Munich to catch flight home
From Munich, leave early and drive 2 and a half hours to the Woflgangsee area of Austria. We used Strobl as our base for two nights (approx 10 minutes away from St Wolfgang) and stayed in a lovely apartment (details here), however, St Wolfgang has lots of hotels to choose from.
Arrive inAustria at lunch time and check into your hotel/apartment. Once settled, drive 15 minutes down the road to St Gilgen to ride the cable car. While slightly pricey, the views from the top are phenomenal.
The top of the mountain is extremely popular for paragliders, so expect to see lots of people flying right beside you.
Snow covered mountains, lush greenery and Lake Wofgangsee can be seen right from the top, and while we went at the start of summer, I am itching to go back in the depths of winter to see ice-covered trees and throw snowballs from the top.
Spend the evening in St Wolfgang, a lakeside town that comes alive in the evening. Grab a bite to eat, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from, and take a stroll to the front of the lake, just as the sun is setting.
If you’re lucky you may even see a swan!
We originally brought some bread to feed the fish, but couldn’t resist allowing feeding the swans instead! Not very ‘rock and roll’ but a lovely relaxing way to end our first day in Austria!
Hallstatt and Gosausee are on the agenda for day six, two of the most beautiful areas of the entire holiday. Hallstatt’s Lake and Old Town make it an extremely popular destination within Austria, so ensure you leave early to enjoy its beauty before the crowds arrive. Park in car park two, which is close to the first stop – the funicular.
Ride to the top to get stunning views of Hallstatt from above, at the viewing platform, and if you have more time, take a tour of the salt mines. Hallstatt has been mining salt since prehistoric times, and is home to one of the most ancient salt mines in the world. For information about the salt mines look here.
After admiring Hallstatt from above, head back down to the bottom to explore the Old Town. Walk along the lake, spotting swans as you go.
Everything in Hallstatt is so picturesque, you can’t help but stop and admire all the pastel coloured buildings with wooden balconies and windowsill flower boxes.
All piled on top of each other in the most higgledy-piggledy kind of way.
Make your way right to the edge of town, beyond the main square and reach the spot where you get the most iconic view of Hallstatt. We made it just as the clock struck 12, with the chruch bells chiming and the water glistening.
With our tummies rumbling, we picked up some picnic worthy food at a local supermarket and sped off into the Austrian countryside for our next stop; Gosausee.
Parking close to the lake is free-of-charge and to make it you must walk a few minutes through the woods.
Where you’ll see the top of a mountain just peaking over the edge.
Once out of the trees you’ll be met with the most spectacular view of Lake Gosausee.
Which natrually calls for a selfie..
Enjoy a picnic here, skim rocks and of course mingle with the local wildlife.
Full from our picnic we drove 40 minutes back home to spend a lazy evening in bed, reading and playing cards, re-energising for our last full day in Austria!
The last full day in Austria will be spent exploring the old city of Salzburg approx 40 minutes away from the Wolfgangsee area. Arrive at your hotel (we stayed here), park up and then walk (or get public transport) into the city centre. Start at Hohensalzburg Castle, a fortress that overlooks the city of Salzburg.
Next, make your way into Old Town and walk around, admiring the architecture and how pristine every building is.
Make your way to the river and cross ‘love-lock’ bridge, to reach the less touristy side of Salzburg.
Wonder through the narrow streets, find a bakery to pick up some food and head to Mirabell Gardens to enjoy another outdoor picnic. It gets crowded, so find a nice shady spot hidden away from tourists.
Afterwards, meander through and spot the fortress in the distance.
We enjoyed the gardens for a little while, before walking back to our hotel room and getting an early dinner close by. Salzburg is that kind of city that doesn’t need to be rushed and can easily be done in a day, but if you have more time go on a guided tour; Salzburg is the birthplace of Mozart and the Sound of Music, so there is plenty to see and do if you wanted to spend a little bit more time here.
After a jam-packed week, it’s time to make the drive from Salzburg to Munich. If catching a later flight, I advise stopping off at Prien am Chiemsee for something to eat, it’s on route and it gives you the chance to have one last German meal before heading home. No-one can say no to one last traditional apple strudel!
Austria and Bavaria now hold a special place in my heart and I plan on returning in the winter, with Christmas Markets and snow-covered landscapes making it hard to resist. There is a lot more of Bavaria that I want to explore, so I feel this has been the perfect, most magical, taster into such a gorgeous destination.
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